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Syracuse Women's Basketball Ranked No. 24 in Preseason AP Poll

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The Orange cracked the preseason rankings after reaching the Round of 32 this past March.

USA TODAY Sports

It's the annual rite of passage that basketball season is approaching.  Polls!

The AP Poll was released on Thursday afternoon and the Syracuse Orange women's basketball team just made the cut. The Orange is No. 24 in the nation, marking the first time Syracuse has made the preseason AP Poll in program history.

The biggest question heading into the season is Brittney Sykes' health.  Sykes led Syracuse in scoring last season before tearing her ACL in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  It's unknown whether Sykes will be ready for the season opener against Fordham on Nov. 16. During Syracuse media day, Sykes said there isn't any target date to come back.  The junior guard, however, made it clear that she does have one goal.

"We should be nowhere less than the Sweet Sixteen," Sykes said.

Last season, the Orange beat the Chattanooga Mocs for its first NCAA Tournament win in program history. The Orange then lost to third-seeded Kentucky by only five points in the Round of 32, despite playing without Sykes.

"We're more than capable of making it to the next round," Sykes said.  "Whether or not I played in that Kentucky game or not, the team that was out on the floor played a tremendous game and played their hearts out.  I couldn't be more proud watching them play."

Besides Sykes, the Orange returns three other starters -- Brianna Butler, Cornelia Fondren and Isabella Slim.  Butler was second in scoring last season and had a team-high 15 points against Kentucky.  She said she plans on distributing the ball more if teams start focusing on her.

"If I'm the center of attention, there's going to be someone open, whether it's Briana Day or Cornelia (Fondren), Bria (Day) Taylor (Ford) or anyone," Butler said.  "If they're singling out on me, I can drive and kick it out to somebody else."